OP-EDs

HEAR OUR VOICE: YOUTH WANT MORE REPRESENTATION IN REFORMS AUTHORITY

We, the youth of Lesotho, from different civil society organisations, political party youth leagues and academic institutions, having worked together to develop the National Youth Compact on Reforms, wish to express our heartfelt opinion on the National Reforms Authority Bill of 2019 by the Ministry of Law, Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights.

Noting

That the purpose of the bill is to establish the National Reforms Authority, which is a successor of the National Dialogue Planning Committee, that was established under and regulated by the National Reforms Dialogue Act, 2018.

Aware

That the National Reforms Framework and Roadmap states that the reforms process for Lesotho will be anchored on the following key principles:

The Facilitative Role of the Government: The Government will facilitate and offer strategic leadership for the reforms;

National Ownership by all Basotho: The reforms will only succeed if they are fully owned by the Basotho through a consultative process;

Strategic Vision: The Reform Stakeholders will articulate and be guided by a vision of “The Lesotho We Want”. This will require a dialogical engagement with the historical, cultural and social complexities in which that vision is grounded.

Inclusiveness and participation: The reforms will involve the full diversity of Basotho without discrimination of political, social or other status. All Basotho will have a voice through public input on the content of programmes and policies – either directly or through legitimate intermediate institutions that represent their interests.

Transparency and Accountability: Information about the processes of the reforms will be accessible to those concerned, and information will be provided to render the processes of the reforms understandable and monitorable; all stakeholders will be accountable to each other and to the people.

Dialogue and consensus building: The reform process will be guided by the Basotho culture of consultation and consensus building and by established international standards of democratic participation.

Further aware

That the Government of Lesotho has pledged through the Lesotho National Youth Policy 2017-2030, that it will strive by all means to ensure at least 25% youth representation in decision making, especially in the National Assembly.

Concerned

That the current process of establish of establishing the National Reforms Authority Bill of 2019 has not been consultative of the different sectors of society. We find this approach adopted for development

of the bill as a deviation from the key principles of the National Reforms Framework and Roadmap which is a guiding document for the reforms process in Lesotho. Specifically, the following principles;

Inclusiveness and participation: The reforms will involve the full diversity of Basotho without discrimination of political, social or other status. All Basotho will have a voice through public input on the content of programmes and policies – either directly or through legitimate intermediate institutions that represent their interests.

National Ownership by all Basotho: The reforms will only succeed if they are fully owned by the Basotho through a consultative process;

Dialogue and consensus building: The reform process will be guided by the Basotho culture of consultation and consensus building and by established international standards of democratic participation.

Our second concern is with regard to the allocation of seats in the National Reforms Authority. We are concerned that a large proportion of seats has been allocated to political parties with minimal involvement of youth representatives. It is our belief that the allocation has promoted discrimination based on political status, thus it is not congruent with the following principle;

Inclusiveness and participation: The reforms will involve the full diversity of Basotho without discrimination of political, social or other status. All Basotho will have a voice through public input on the content of programmes and policies – either directly or through legitimate intermediate institutions that represent their interests.

It is our believe that as the youth, we are the custodians and direct beneficiaries of the national reforms process and we will be the ones with the responsibility of implementing decisions made in the process, hence our representation should be at numerically superior. The current allocation of seats is not complaint with the policy statement made by the Government of Lesotho in the Lesotho National Youth Policy 2017-2030.

Our Demands

We demand the Speaker of the National Assembly to allow a consultative process where different sectors of society, including the youth, should be invited to table views before the bill is enacted. We recommend that it be forwarded the Law and Public Safety Committee for public participation.

Secondly, we propose 40% representation of youth in the National Reforms Authority. NW

*This is a joint statement by the youth organisations on their position on the National Reforms Authority Bill (2019).

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